David SchoenfieldESPN Senior WriterClose
- Senior writer of SweetSpot baseball blog
- Former deputy editor of Page 2
- Been with ESPN.com since 1995
NEW YORK — Bryce Harper‘s first game at Citi Field as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies began with a long rain delay and ended with a short stay. Harper was ejected in the top of the fourth inning of a 5-1 loss after chirping from the bench after he struck out looking on a high fastball.
Four batters after Harper struck out on the 2-2 pitch, during the middle of Cesar Hernandez‘s at-bat, umpire Mark Carlson ejected Harper. Phillies manager Gabe Kapler rushed out of the dugout to argue. Harper then sprinted out from the dugout sans helmet, and Kapler had to push him away from Carlson. Harper continued to yell and point towards Carlson and had to be restrained.
“It just can’t happen,” Harper said. “In a game like that against the Mets, division rival, things like that, it just can’t happen. For myself and this team, as well. We’re a better team with me in the lineup, and I gotta stay in that game.”
It was Harper’s 12th career ejection and, incredibly, the first Phillies player to get ejected from a game since Justin De Fratus on June 16, 2015. Harper is second among active players in ejections, trailing only Matt Kemp, who has 14 and entered the majors six years before Harper.
“I have to stay in that game for the organization, the fans. I have to do better,” Harper said. “These games matter. They matter now, they matter in September.”
Kapler didn’t believe Harper deserved to be ejected. “There was normal chirping from the dugout that is in every dugout every single night,” he said. “It was no different.”
Kapler said the Phillies were not happy with Carlson’s strike zone: “Our dugout did not agree with a lot of Mark’s calls. I think everyone can go back and look at the game and form their own opinions.”
Bryce Harper apologizes for being ejected vs. the Mets and says he has not talked to Jake Arrieta following Arrieta’s postgame comments on him.
The pitch Carlson rung up Harper on was a fastball up in the zone and on the outside corner, but certainly a reasonable call according to strike-zone data. A previous called strike in the at-bat was even more borderline at the top of the zone.
Harper didn’t say much to Carlson as he walked to the dugout after the call, but he apparently kept yelling from the bench. He had also struck out in the first inning, taking two pitches for strikes from Steven Matz and then swinging through a 2-2 slider.
Harper is hitting .272/.410/.531 but has now struck out 29 times in 22 games and is on pace for 213 strikeouts. He fanned a career-high 169 times last season in 159 games.